Russia spans over a large amount of eastern Europe and northern Asia. Russia was once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; also known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the termination of the Soviet Union in December 1991.Russia contains Europe’s longest river, the Volga, and its largest lake, Ladoga. Russia also is home to the world’s deepest lake, Baikal, and the country recorded the world’s lowest temperature outside the North and South poles.Russia covers approximately one sixth of the Earth’s land surface. One quarter of its territory was in Europe and the rest in Asia. Along the 20,000 kilometer long land frontier Russia bordered sixteen countries. More than two thirds of the borders were seacoast, the world’s longest coastal boundary. The Soviet territory contained all the major vegetation zones except the tropical rainforest.Russia experiences notorious cold and long winter’s. Most of Russia experiences half a year of subfreezing temperatures and snow covered over suboil. Arctic winds drop the temperature as low as -152 degrees Celsius or -242 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of Russia is located in the temperate zone. More than half the country received fewer than forty centimeters of rainfall each year. The wettest part of Russia was found in the small,lush subtropical region. During the Soviet era the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic was part of a series of Soviet constitutions, under which it nominally was a sovereign socialist state within a federal structure. Until the late 1980s, the government was controlled at all levels by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was all-powerful and whose head was the country’s de facto leader. During elections., there was only a single slate of candidates, the great majority of whom were in effect chosen by the Communist Party. The president is Vladimir Putin and the Prime Minister is Dmitry Medvedev.Russia’s monetary unit is the ruble, which is now freely convertible. The Russian Central Bank , which took over the functions of the Soviet-era Gosbank, is responsible for regulating the country’s monetary system. As Soviet economic expansion slowed during the 1970s and ’80s, it became noticeable that further growth required large quantities of high-tech equipment from the West. To finance these imports, increasing amounts of hard currency were needed, and this could be obtained only by increasing exports to the West. Russia relied heavily on oil and gas exports as a source for its hard currency needs as a result. Russia consists of the following competitive industries: oil and gas, mining, processing precious stones and metals, aircraft building, aerospace production, weapons and military machinery manufacture, electric engineering, pulp-and-paper production, automotive industry, transport, road and agriculture machinery production, light and foodstuffs industries.Machine building is the leading industry in Russia, which is concentrated mostly in Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Urals, Volga region, and Westerns Siberia. It provides all other industries with equipment and machinery. The share of machine building in Russian economy is almost 30%. Popular tourist routes in Russia include a travel around the Golden Ring of ancient cities, cruises on the big rivers including the Volga, and long journeys on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway. Diverse regions and ethnic cultures of Russia offer many different foods and souvenirs, and show a great variety of traditions, including Russian banya, Nizhny Novgorod Khokhloma and Matryoshka, Tatar Sabantuy, or Siberian shamanist rituals. In 2013, Russia was visited by 33 million tourists, making it the ninth-most visited country in the world and the seventh-most visited in Europe.The most popular tourist destinations in Russia are Saint Petersburg and Moscow, the current and the former capitals of the country and great cultural centers, recognized as World Cities. Moscow and Saint Petersburg feature such world-renowned museums as Hermitage and Tretyakov Gallery, famous theaters including Bolshoi And Mariinsky, ornate churches such as Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood, impressive fortifications such as Moscow Kremlin and Peter and Paul Fortress, beautiful squares such as Red Square and Palace Square, and streets such as Tverskaya and Nevsky Prospect. Russia’s large size and the great distances that often separate sources of raw materials and foodstuffs from consumers place a heavy problem on the transport system. One result has been the continuing dominance of the railways, which account for about nine-tenths of the country’s freight turnover and half of all passenger movement. The railway network of European Russia is nearly seven times as dense as that found in the Asian portion of the country. Indeed, east of the Urals the term network is a misnomer, since the system consists of only a few major trunk routes with feeder branches to sites of economic importance. Russian railways are among the world’s leading freight carriers, the line from the Kuznetsk Basin to the Urals being especially prominent. The railways are owned and run by a joint-stock company controlled by the state. The 2010 census reported that the official population of Russia was 142.9 million. The most current estimate for 2018 reports that the population is around 143.96 million.Although almost 81% of Russian citizens identify themselves as ethnic Russians, there are also other big ethnic groups. 3.9% of Russians are Tartars, 1.4% Ukrainians, 1.2% Bashkirs, 1.1% Chuvashs and 1.0% Chechens. 3.9% of the population did not declare any ethnic origin.Linguistically, the population of Russia can be divided into the Indo-European group, comprising East Slavic speakers and smaller numbers speaking several other languages; the Altaic group, including Turkic, Manchu-Tungus, and Mongolian; the Uralic group, including Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic; and the Caucasian group, comprising Abkhazo-Adyghian and Nakho-Dagestanian. Because few of the languages of the smaller indigenous minorities are taught in the schools, it is likely that some will disappear.With almost 5,000 religious associations the Russian Orthodox Church accounts for over a half of the total number registered in Russia. Next in numbers come Muslim associations, about 3,000, Baptists, 450, Seventh Day Adventists, 120, Evangelicals, 120, Old Believers, over 200, Roman Catholics, 200, Krishnaites, 68, Buddhists, 80, Judaists, 50, and Unified Evangelical Lutherans, 39.Many churches and monasteries have been returned to the Church, including the St. Daniel Monastery, the current seat of the Moscow Patriarchate, the spiritual and administrative center of the Russian Orthodox Church.Russia had 150 Roman Catholic parishes, two theological seminaries and an academy before the revolution of 1917. Russia has many official holidays, including the Russian Orthodox Christmas (January 7), Victory Day in World War II (May 9), Independence Day (June 12), and Constitution Day (December 12). Women’s Day (March 8), formerly known as International Women’s Day and celebrated elsewhere in the world by its original name, was established by Soviet authorities to highlight the advances women made under communist rule. Some of the most-renowned museums in the world are found in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In Moscow the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum houses treasures of western European art, while the Tretyakov Gallery has a strong collection of Russian art. The Soviet Union fostered the development of the physical sciences, and although hampered by the slow development of the computer industry and outdated laboratory equipment, many of its scientists and scientific institutions did important work. Fields with potential military application, such as physics, chemistry, and mathematics, along with other disciplines, were supported. Much of the money for the sciences has vanished. Where it exists, private or foundation funding can provide only minimal resources. Dozens of prestigious institutes are nearly closed, lacking funds even for essentials such as electricity and water.Russia has always been primarily an oral culture in which a wide range of folkloric genres and traditions has flourished and provided the primary form of entertainment. Pre-Christian epic ballads, agricultural songs, laments, and tales dating back to before the tenth century were recorded for the first time in the seventeenth century. Folktales and epic poems were carried by travelling storytellers; riddles, jokes, and verbal games were popular in every village; and there was a broad spectrum of folk poetry, from sacred ritual verse to short songs.